Medium catherinekblog may 2017

How housing keeps families together

19.05.17

Rural Housing Enabler Catherine reflects on affordable housing, and the ties that bind families

I am travelling back home this weekend to attend a friend’s wedding. I moved to Hampshire in 2012 having spent most of my life living in a small Welsh village. Five years on, I now feel as though I have two homes – one in Hampshire and the other in Wales. I have met some lovely people in Hampshire but they have no links to my friends and family back in Wales. The only time my two ‘worlds’ collide is when my parents come down to visit me.

I enjoy living in Hampshire. I love walking in the South Downs and New Forest National Parks, eating out in Winchester and travelling to London for days out. I also like to travel back home regularly to visit my family as most of them still live in the area.

Both my parents and all four of my grandparents grew up in the same cluster of villages in Wales. My grandparents actually met at a dance held in a neighbouring village in the 1950s. Our ties to this area go back generations.

House prices in the village I grew up in are much lower than in Hampshire. My family have therefore always been able to afford to continue living in the area.
Both sets of grandparents lived a stone’s throw away from us when we were growing up and they often looked after me and my sister when my parents were at work. We always went to my Gran and Taid’s house after school where my Taid made us jam sandwiches, cutting off the crusts.

My 89 year old grandfather still lives in the village. He is in relatively good health for his age, often making the short walk up to the local Labour club to see friends and play dominoes. He does however suffer from diabetes and had to have his toe amputated recently. The main reason why he is able to continue living independently is because my mother lives close by so is on hand whenever he needs her. He is also able to keep a dog, Ben as a companion because my parents ensure that Ben is taken for a walk every day.
My family would find it very difficult continue to support one another if they could not live in their local area.

Our National Health Service is a valuable asset which is becoming increasingly strained. Those with family support networks living close by rely much less on the NHS than those with no support. Older people are also much more likely to manage living independently in their own home if they have family living close by. People’s health and wellbeing is influenced by the level of informal support they receive, this in turn impacts on the level of healthcare they require.

House prices in Hampshire have soared mainly due to its picturesque ‘chocolate box’ villages and close proximity to London. As a consequence, many people with close ties to their community can no longer afford to live there.

My role at Action Hampshire is to help build small affordable housing schemes for local people in Hampshire’s rural communities. I have spoken to many Hampshire families who are desperate for some affordable homes to be built in their community to enable them to stay living close to relatives.

Affordable homes need to be built in Hampshire’s rural areas to maintain strong ties and keep families together.